European Citizens' Initiative to achieve a tobacco-free environment

On Wednesday, the European Commission decided to register a European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) entitled ‘Call to achieve a tobacco-free environment and the first European tobacco-free generation by 2030'.

The organisers of the initiative called on the Commission to propose legislation to save new generations from falling into tobacco addiction, to act against related environmental dangers and against smoking. More specifically, they ask the Commission to propose legal acts to end the sale of tobacco and nicotine products to citizens born in 2010 onwards.

The initiative also calls on specific measures to achieve tobacco-free and cigarette butt-free beaches and riverbanks, create a European network of tobacco and cigarette butt-free national parks, to extend outdoor vapour-free spaces, and to eliminate tobacco advertising and its presence in audiovisual productions and social media.

As this European Citizens' Initiative fulfils the formal conditions, the Commission considers that it is legally admissible. The Commission has not analysed the substance of the proposal at this stage.

The decision to register is of a legal nature and it does not prejudge the final legal and political conclusions of the Commission on this initiative and the action it will intend to take, if any, in case the initiative obtains the necessary support. The content of the initiative only expresses the views of the group of organisers, and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the Commission.

Next Steps

Organisers have 6 months to open the signature collection. If a European Citizens' Initiative receives 1 million statements of support within 1 year, from at least 7 different Member States, the Commission will have to react. The Commission could decide to take the request forward or not, and will be required to explain its reasoning.

The European Citizens' Initiative was introduced with the Lisbon Treaty as an agenda-setting tool in the hands of citizens. It was officially launched in April 2012. Once formally registered, a European Citizens' Initiative allows 1 million citizens from at least 7 EU Member States to invite the European Commission to propose legal acts in areas where it has the power to act. The conditions for admissibility are: (1) the proposed action does not manifestly fall outside the framework of the Commission's powers to submit a proposal for a legal act, (2) it is not manifestly abusive, frivolous or vexatious and (3) it is not manifestly contrary to the values of the Union.

Since the beginning of the ECI, the Commission has received 118 requests to launch a European Citizens' Initiative, 91 of which were admissible and thus qualified to be registered.

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